Sunday, July 3, 2016

Be the Person you Admired as a Child

Artists Jim and Ange Gloria working with students
on the mural in Bangor, Pennsylvania.
Ask any young person, what do you want to be when you grow up? and their eyes will glow with possibilities. Every child holds dreams, desires, and a uniquely personal sense of who they are and what they wish to offer to the world. It is really quite remarkable that I have yet to meet a young person who does not fill up like a balloon of anticipation when asked this question. I am going to venture to say that every one of us was once a child who could only see possibilities.

The experiences we have while growing up are often sobering. Those initial dreams and desires either withered away and were buried by criticism, or were nurtured and cultivated into fruition. Those of us whose childhood dreams were muffled can usually point back to an adult whose septic judgement was accepted by a younger version of themselves. Likewise, those who pursued their dreams, and retain something of that young child, can often point to an adult who encouraged them to live out their purpose. A few who did not have encouragement did have an inner conviction that was so strong that they were able to overcome life-crushing criticism and remain true to their sense of purpose.

I would like to offer here some thoughts that are not original, not overly profound, are not necessarily unknown to you. But, perhaps, they have been forgotten. These words are written for young people who have dreams, adults who have forgotten their dreams, and for those who are living their dreams.

To the young person who has a dream I tell you to choose wisely to whom you listen. When an adult gives you advice, don't only look at the advice, look at the source. Does this person live a life that you admire? Would you want to become the person that this adult is? Look past the titles, accomplishments, or success of the adult and try to see if they have a true joy for being. It is sometimes difficult to see, so trust what you feel. It is not uncommon to feel good about yourself in the company of a truly authentic and content person. If you feel badly or negatively about yourself after spending time with the person; listen and trust your feelings. It is often the case that unfulfilled adults spread their frustrations to young people under the guise of wisdom.

To the adults who have forgotten their dream I say seek out those whom you admire and emulate them. Expand your friendships and surround yourself with the kind of people that live the life you wish to cultivate for yourself. Take a serious look at the people you are surrounded by and identify who encourages you towards being yourself, and who holds you back. Often we have, in our mature life, a negative counterpart to the discouraging adult from our childhood. Identify these people and cultivate a healthful awareness of their role in either lifting you up, or holding you back.

To those who are living their dreams I ask you to share your joy with younger people. Take time to express, teach, and share with them your experiences and what you have learned. Ask the young person what their dream is, and give them every reason to believe that they should pursue that dream. Be the person who encouraged you in early life -or be the positive person you wish you had encountered as a child.